Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Faience, Tut, Tut, Tut

King Tut has descended on Baghdad By The Bay and, in all its glory, the show still goes on. I first saw the King Tut exhibit at the “original” De Young when it was here in the 1970s. I also spent numerous evenings in the Egyptian Wing at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, albeit more for the swanky cocktail parties than for the culture at hand, but that’s another story. Tut has always been fabulous – centuries ago, decades ago, and even now.

An Egyptian "Lotus-form" Cup in Faience from The Metropolitan Museum web site

Moving right along…As time goes by; many of us realize that we somehow have this ability to connect the dots in our lives. Mind you, these dots are small, but who would have thought that when I fell in love with Faience in France last year that I would suddenly realize, in the midst of an afternoon at the DeYoung, that my Faience, my beautiful white pottery, was made in the same manner, with the same materials, as many of these ancient Egyptian artifacts on display; amulets, tiles and small statues.

A statue of Isis & Horus in Faience from the Metropolitan Museum web site

My Faience is the real deal –fired in ateliers just outside the village of Moustiers-Saint-Marie in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. I was there on a visit with friend, who had moved with hubby to Provence just weeks before, and my terribly chic cousin, herself a Decorator in London. Shopping simplified itself as one of us (not me, alas) spoke beautiful French - so much more comfortable doing business in the native language!
A "Cherry Leaf" bowl in Faience Blanche.

The three of us spent a spectacular day attending a local truffle festival, exploring the Gorges deVerdon, and arriving in Moustiers mid-afternoon. It is a beautiful place; magical really, steeped in history and the center of the pottery trade, especially faience, for centuries. They say that there is a pink light there at twilight that I would have loved to have seen, but Moi missed it. Next time.

The reverse side of the "Cherry Leaf" bowl in Faience Blanche.

We poked our heads in and out of shops, had a drink in an odd little establishment and settled on a small shop with an exquisite window displaying gorgeous pottery. I was immediately drawn in and found myself lingering over the beautiful hand made pieces, each one more interesting than the other. Initially I decided to purchase one piece, and then I added another, and then, I decided that I wanted it all. I purchased many place settings and some small decorative plates and had it shipped home. Done. Fabulous.

A set of the Faience Blanche plates with Salt and Pepper vessels.

My beautiful Faience Blanche. I love it every day. I love the way it looks, the way it’s made, the history of the pottery, and, most importantly, the history of the purchase, with my dearest friends, on a wonderful day in France that I most probably will never forget.

Barbara Ashfield

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